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AT&T, Discovery deal highlights media’s thirst to be like Netflix By Reuters 

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The corporate emblem for AT&T is displayed on a display on the ground on the New York Inventory Alternate (NYSE) in New York, U.S., September 18, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Picture

By Helen Coster

(Reuters) – Since AT&T purchased Time Warner in 2018 to compete with Netflix and Disney , the world of streaming video has solely gotten extra cutthroat.

The telecom big’s take care of Discovery (NASDAQ:) Inc, introduced Monday, marks the most recent shift within the remaking of the media {industry} and the potential starting of one other spherical of consolidation. An earlier wave three years in the past resulted in media mogul Rupert Murdoch leaving Hollywood and Viacom and CBS recombining.

The deal combining Discovery with AT&T Inc (NYSE:)’s WarnerMedia underscores the worth of scale in in the present day’s media panorama, the place {industry} leaders Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:) and Walt Disney (NYSE:) Co are trying exterior america for development.

Discovery brings a worldwide footprint with its pan-European tv sports activities community Eurosport, in addition to a portfolio of broadcast channels throughout Europe.

“The alternatives in direct-to-consumer streaming are quickly evolving, and to maintain tempo and retain a management place a number of issues are required: world scale, entry to capital, a broad array of high-quality content material and industry-best expertise,” mentioned AT&T Chief Government John Stankey throughout a press name Monday morning.

The brand new firm, with a reputation introduced by subsequent week, may have over 200,000 hours of programming and embrace 100 manufacturers – from HBO to Animal Planet to CNN and the Meals Community. It’ll embrace streaming companies resembling HBO Max and Discovery+, that are rising, however nonetheless considerably smaller than Netflix and Disney+.

HBO and HBO Max have 63.9 million world subscribers. Discovery has 15 million world streaming subscribers, most of them for Discovery+. That compares to 103.6 million for Disney+ and 207.6 million for Netflix.

ViacomCBS (NASDAQ:) Inc and Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:) may very well be feeling strain to contemplate bulking up, analysts mentioned on Monday, because the panorama is ready to alter as soon as once more.

Wealthy Greenfield, a companion and analyst at LightShed Companions, mentioned in a observe on Monday that ViacomCBS was the one apparent potential companion for Comcast, however its CBS community and native information stations “are clear regulatory issues.”


Discovery’s world footprint will assist WarnerMedia’s worldwide enlargement as soon as the deal closes in mid-2022. HBO Max is scheduled to launch in June in 30 territories throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and to roll out in one other 21 markets throughout Europe within the second half of the yr.

WarnerMedia has quite a lot of U.S. TV distribution rights, together with offers with Main League Baseball, the Nationwide Basketball Affiliation, the Nationwide Hockey League and the N.C.A.A. by way of Turner Sports activities. Discovery has broadcast rights in Europe for the Olympic Video games by way of 2024, amongst others.

The opposite alternative is in information, Zaslav mentioned, the place Discovery has lately invested in GB Information, a conservative-leaning channel in the UK. Zaslav mentioned the corporate intends to be long-term homeowners of CNN and teased additional world enlargement, mentioning Discovery’s information enterprise in Poland.​

“The direct-to-consumer momentum on each side will speed up our capacity to be one of many high streaming firms on this planet,” mentioned Zaslav.

The deal builds on the sooner spherical of consolidation that noticed Disney bulking up by way of a number of transactions over a few years: from its 2017 deal to purchase Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (NASDAQ:) – which introduced franchises like “Avatar” and “The Simpsons” inside the corporate – to earlier purchases by then-CEO Bob Iger, which included Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Leisure and “Star Wars” producer Lucasfilm.

These offers helped propel Disney’s launch of its Disney+ streaming companies in November 2019, which rapidly exceeded expectations, reaching 10 million sign-ups in its first day.

The 2019 merger of Viacom and CBS had an analogous intention, positioning the corporate to rebrand its CBS All Entry streaming service into Paramount+, bolstered by content material throughout the CBS tv community, CBS Information and Showtime cable networks with MTV Networks, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and the Paramount film studios.

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